Comics : Venom (Vol. 2) #21

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This story is part of an Arc: "Savage Six"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This review was first published on: Aug 2013.

Background...

Crime Master has gathered his own super-villain team called the Savage Six, which consists of himself, Jack O' Lantern, Megatak, Toxin, Death Adder and Human Fly. After a failed assassination plot on Crime Master, Venom's friends and family have been hunted down by Crime Master.

So far, Venom has (brutally) taken down Human Fly and Death Adder and saved his sister and mother. Sadly, Crime Master has Betty, but she is in little danger because Crime Master revealed his identity to be Betty's late brother...Bennett Brant!

In Detail...

"Best Laid Plans..."
Venom (Vol. 2) #21
Sep 2012 : SM Spin-Off
Summary: Part 4 of "Savage Six"
Arc: Part 4 of "Savage Six"
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alomso
Editor:  Tom Brennan
Writer:  Cullen Bunn, Rick Remender
Pencils:  Lan Medina
Cover Art:  Edgar Delgado, Tony Moore
Lettering:  Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Chris Sotomayor
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Articles: Jack O'Lantern VI

At the abandoned ship yard on Staten Island, Crime Master's HQ, Venom has infiltrated the base disguised as one of the henchmen and has taken out the guards. Inside, Bennett is talking to Betty, explaining, "There's only one way this is all gonna end. This ends bloody." Jack O' Lantern stands nearby with his helmet off, showing Betty that he is the man from the coffee shop. "Let's have one of those brother and sister heart-to-hearts I hear so much about on the Lifetime channel," Bennett says.

Betty is still having a hard time accepting Bennett's revival after he died in ASM #11. "That bullet ripping me up stung almost as bad as knowing my sister thought I was nothing but a low-life, gutter-trash gambler!" Bennett yells at Betty as he grabs her by the hair. Then, he throws her into Jack, exclaiming, "I've bettered myself." He vaguely explains how somebody brought him back from the dead to be the new Crime Master, continuing a "noble tradition."

Bennett tells Betty that he should have come for her earlier, but he had his work. He "yearned" for her while watching "that pathetic cripple Flash Thompson try to take [his] place with [her]." Before he can continue the melodrama, one of his men alert him that Venom is there and Bennett tells Jack it's "game time."

Somewhere in the lair, Venom is shooting at Megatak. "Surrender yourself to the fury of the new reality!" Megatak yells. Then, he lands some forceful blows on Venom, sending him across the room. Megatak starts rambling about how code is better than flesh and is about to give Venom mercy. But Toxin arrives and says, "No. No mercy. It's not your right to offer him such kindness. He's mine!" Toxin bites off Megatak's head.

Toxin starts battling, calling Venom "grandfather" and expressing his disappointment that a human put him "on a leash." Venom throws down some smoke bombs and Toxin yells, "Where's the beast that tried to slaughter me?" When he sees Venom in the smoke, he immediately attacks, but it's just the symbiote playing a trick on him. Venom starts shooting him from behind and a fire randomly starts. (What?)

The Toxin symbiote weakens in the fire and Venom pries open his jaws to save Eddie. But the Toxin isn't done with Eddie and pulls him back into the flames. The fire burns them both and Venom flees, knowing he can't save Brock because of the fire.

Meanwhile, somewhere else in the lair, Betty is trying to convince Crime Master to not kill Venom, and he refuses, saying, "What makes you think he'd extend me the same courtesy?" Betty begins to defend him when Venom, in the rafters, says, "He's going to die." Jack immediately springs into action, ranting about how he's tired of their rivalry. Venom tells him, "This is between me and your boss." He tackles Jack and he falls into a pit of acid.

"He's a tough kid. He'll be fine," Crime Master says as he points his vapor gun at him. Betty screams to Venom that Crime Master's her brother, but Venom doesn't care. He's going to kill him either way. Venom tells him that poison isn't going to do anything to him, but the vapor is revealed to "produce an intense audio effect." Then, he reloads his gun to "vaporized napalm mist."

Flash's symbiote is weakened and Crime Master reloads his gun again to poison. He points it at Flash and...BLAM! But Crime Master isn't the one who fired. Betty shot Bennett in the back and he slumps over. Betty starts to cry as he falls into the acid. Betty says, "He died a long time ago."

Later, on a rooftop, Betty is talking to Flash. She tells him that Bennett would still be dead even if she didn't fire the gun. "I never meant for things to turn out this way," Flash exclaims. Betty tells him that Bennett was coming for her and she got him involved. She explains it isn't all his fault and she forgives him. "But I never want to see you again," Betty says.

Even later, at the Avengers Lighthouse Station, Venom enters the meeting room and Valkyrie tells him that they've been calling him for days. He replies, "I've had a big stumble. It didn't go well. Truth is, I've been screwing up since I got this symbiote. And I think it's time I came clean."

In General...

I will admit, this issue was really fast paced. Too fast paced. It think Remender crammed two-and-a-half issue's worth of story into one comic book. Although it was enjoyable, I just think the villains were defeated too easily. I would have liked to see more Megatak vs. Toxin and Venom vs. Jack. Otherwise, I enjoyed suspense (although it went by quickly) and thought the Betty/Bennett relationship was well done.

I compliment Remender for having Betty forgive Flash and say it wasn't his fault at the end after how Flash beat himself up about this all being his fault earlier. I think it will affect his character to know that the character he tormented the most because of the situation doesn't blame him. Plus, she made a good point that this would all happen to her even if Venom wasn't around.

With that comes one big, glaring negative. Who revived Bennett and how? Remender was very vague on the details and that really bothers me. I know Remender has a bit of a knack from bringing dead characters back as villains (read his first Secret Avengers arc and current Uncanny Avengers arc) and it doesn't sit right with me at all.

Lan Medina's art, though it really impressed me throughout the arc, really disappointed me with the Venom vs. Toxin battle. It's just so proportionally incorrect. One second, Toxin is far bigger that Venom and the next he's his same height. I think the main problem with Toxin is that his stringy, giant monster design just sucks. I was also confused as to how Toxin lit fire. I think it was somewhat hinted that Venom threw a grenade at him, but it should have been done better. Other than that, the art is solid. I've noticed that Medina's misdirected eyes have vanished during this arc.

Overall Rating...

Although it was too fast paced and the Toxin vs. Venom battle was drawn poorly, I enjoyed this final installment of the Savage Six.

Footnote...

The next issue is Remender's last. Then, Bunn takes over. Bunn was co-writing this arc, but it's clear that Remender mostly wrote it.